Contact Lenses, Now Measuring Glucose Levels

    January 22, 2014
    Mike Tuttle
    Comments are off for this post.

Diabetes plagues approximately 1 in 20 people in the world. Left untreated, it can cause severe complications, including death. Since 1921, medications have been available to control or treat diabetes; however, glucose monitoring has been living in the past, using a prick to the skin to to draw blood to put on a chemically-active test strip. But all of that may be about to change.

Google, the multinational corporation specializing in Internet-related products and services, is working on a project to better help millions of diabetics manage their glucose levels: the Google contact lens.

As well as blood, tears can also provide glucose measurements since almost all of the bodily fluids of diabetics have trace amounts of sugar in them, according to I4U News.

The “smart” lens would use a tiny wireless chip and a miniature glucose sensor between two layers of of soft contact lens material and could generate a reading once per second.

According to Google, the lens could also be an “early warning” for diabetics and they are exploring the idea of including tiny LED lights on the lens that light up when insulin levels get too high or low.

However, Google is still in discussion with the Food and Drug Administration and the new lens could be many years away from public purchase.

On Thursday, January 16, Google posted on their blog page:

“You’ve probably heard that diabetes is a huge and growing problem—affecting one in every 19 people on the planet. But you may not be familiar with the daily struggle that many people with diabetes face as they try to keep their blood sugar levels under control. Uncontrolled blood sugar puts people at risk for a range of dangerous complications, some short-term and others longer term, including damage to the eyes, kidneys and heart. A friend of ours told us she worries about her mom, who once passed out from low blood sugar and drove her car off the road.

Many people I’ve talked to say managing their diabetes is like having a part-time job. Glucose levels change frequently with normal activity like exercising or eating or even sweating. Sudden spikes or precipitous drops are dangerous and not uncommon, requiring round-the-clock monitoring. Although some people wear glucose monitors with a glucose sensor embedded under their skin, all people with diabetes must still prick their finger and test drops of blood throughout the day. It’s disruptive, and it’s painful. And, as a result, many people with diabetes check their blood glucose less often than they should.

We’re in discussions with the FDA, but there’s still a lot more work to do to turn this technology into a system that people can use. We’re not going to do this alone: we plan to look for partners who are experts in bringing products like this to market. These partners will use our technology for a smart contact lens and develop apps that would make the measurements available to the wearer and their doctor. We’ve always said that we’d seek out projects that seem a bit speculative or strange, and at a time when the International Diabetes Federation (PDF) is declaring that the world is “losing the battle” against diabetes, we thought this project was worth a shot.”

In the past, Google has also produced items such as Android, the mobile operation system; the driverless car, and Internet-connected eyewear.

Image via YouTube

  • Shauna

    I am one of those diabetics and I cannot tell u how wonderful this sounds – I am soon to turn 50 and was recently interested in getting a pump to help me better manage my diabetes type 1 – my dr told me it wasn’t posske as the pumps are really only for “young people”, to say I was appalled is an understatement – how dare the medical establishment decide who can and can’t live a better life for thenselces with a disease – please pick me as an early volunteer – any time u need me I will be here – anything that might make my life easier!

    • Lucky

      I feel ya Shauna. I am type II plus Keratoconus in both eyes one is worse than the other. What makes me mad is the eye doctor suggested a Cornea Transplant knowing I am Diabetic that really made me upset. I worse RGP lens for 7yrs came to the point it being intolerable. I am sure it is a good idea for those that can wear them but someone like me can not. You do what you can do in life to work but when your forced to quit due to Keratoconus SSD will find any way possible to keep you from getting it. Now “SOME” eye doctor will find anyways possible you to see & ignore the Diabetes such as a Cornea Transplant. The fact is it only last 10yrs. No eye doctor should suggest a Keratoconus Diabetic to take that Cornea Transplant it is not 100% can do more than good. You have some eye doctor who is against it by using common sense such as your a Diabetic which means your eye will not heal right & you will suffer more than help. I totally agree it’s not right but you got some eye doctor that can not see logic common sense. Well that is why there is a court system but again the ALJ is not on your side more like on the SSD side. It’s a shame that they rather you to suffer than you be on Social Security Disability. You worked 20+yrs and can not longer work due to a disability it is your right to be on it. What I like to read is the ones that say so I gotta work while your on disability? Well the idiots that say that well he put into it to dummy!